Survey: Most Employers Offer Long Thanksgiving Weekend

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By Jazlyn Williams

Almost all employers plan to offer employees paid time off on Thanksgiving, and the percentage of employers treating the next day as additional holiday leave remains near record highs, according to the Bloomberg BNA 2017 survey of year-end holiday practices.

The annual survey said 97 percent of businesses designated Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, as a paid holiday to all or most of the workforce.

Seventy-eight percent of businesses also planned to provide paid leave for the next day, Nov. 24, a slight decrease from last year’s historic high of 80 percent. The previous peaks, 78 percent in 2007 and 79 percent in 2009, may have been the result of efforts to keep operation costs down during the recession, but the rise in four-day weekends in an improved economy may indicate that the additional day off is now considered an employee perk, the survey said.

The proportion of employers granting holiday leave on Thanksgiving to all or most of employees but not the following Friday was 19 percent, unchanged from 2016.

Reports of Thanksgiving work shifts are slightly higher for 2017, with 33 percent of employers to require at least some employees to work on Thanksgiving Day, up from 31 percent for 2016. The proportion of employers requiring Thanksgiving work has been about 33 percent since 2004 but dipped to all-time lows of 28 percent in 2009, followed by 29 percent in 2010 and 2011, the survey said.

Unchanged from 2016, employers with more than 1,000 employees are more likely than employers with less than 1,000 employees to remain at least partially staffed on Thanksgiving, the survey said. Sixty-three percent of larger employers plan to require some employees to work on Thanksgiving, compared with 22 percent of smaller employers.

Nonbusiness employers, such as municipalities, schools, and hospitals, are also more likely to require employees to work on the holiday, the survey said. Fifty-four percent of responding nonbusiness employers reported scheduled holiday shifts, compared with 29 percent of manufacturers and 22 percent of nonmanufacturing companies.

Large employers and nonbusiness employers also are the most likely to forego a four-day weekend when offering paid leave on Thanksgiving, according to the survey. Twenty-nine percent of large employers and 23 percent of nonbusiness employers are to provide paid leave to all or most employees on Nov. 23, but not on Nov. 24.

For 2017, 91 percent of responding manufacturers designated Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 as full days off, compared with 75 percent of nonmanufacturing companies and 75 percent of nonbusiness employers.

As in 2016, most employers that are to require some employees to work on Thanksgiving are to pay overtime pay, compensatory time off, or some combination of the two to workers who must work on the holiday.

Thirty-three percent of responding employers are to provide time and one-half pay, down from 36 percent for 2016; 27 percent are to provide double-time pay, up from 22 percent; 8 percent are to provide compensatory time in addition to regular pay, up from 4 percent; and 6 percent are to provide extra pay and compensatory time, down from 12 percent. Seven percent of employers plan only regular pay for those working on Thanksgiving, down from 11 percent in 2016.

Among the 11 percent of employers that reported other compensation for holiday work in 2017, many are to provide regular pay plus holiday pay or holiday pay plus time and one-half pay, the survey said.

Twenty-three percent of employers are to participate in the long-standing tradition of distributing Thanksgiving gifts or providing holiday meals to all or most employees this year.

The percentage of employers providing gifts or meals increased significantly in 2014, to 20 percent from 13 percent in 2013, and has remained at higher levels. A slight revision to the survey questionnaire may have accounted for some of the increase, but it is likely that the improving economy was also a factor, the survey said.

For 2017, 14 percent of employers are to provide employees with a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, up from 11 percent for 2016; a gift certificate for food, 6 percent, down from 7 percent; a turkey, 3 percent, down from 4 percent.

Manufacturing employers continue to be the most likely to show appreciation through gift-giving, with 40 percent providing meals or gifts in 2017, up from 37 percent in 2016. A larger proportion of small employers also are to participate in the custom, with 26 percent reporting planned gifts or meals compared to 17 percent of large employers.

Employers should remember that gift certificates with a redeemable cash value are taxable under federal law. For gift certificates to be nontaxable, they should not come with a specified cash value. Tangible gifts of small value, such as a turkey, may be provided tax-free.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jazlyn Williams in Washington at To contact the editor on this story: Michael Baer at

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